Advice for Local Outdoor Power Equipment Dealers From a 37-yr Industry Veteran

Merle Yockey

Here at Kenney Machinery, we’re incredibly proud of our hard-working employees whose passion for their jobs drives our success as a company.  To help our customers get to know the people who work day in and day out to make us one of the best turf equipment distributors in the region, we like to periodically put the spotlight on Kenney Machinery employees so they can share their knowledge and experience.

This month we’re featuring Merle Yockey, a Kenney Machinery sales representative who works with local Toro dealers.  Merle has worked in the turf equipment industry for an incredible 37 years, 33 of those years with Kenney Machinery.  We asked him to share some of the wisdom he’s learned after three decades in the business.  Here’s what he had to say in response to our questions:

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I love working with people, whether it’s my co-workers and supervisors at Kenney Machinery, the Toro representatives, or the local Toro dealers.  I enjoy explaining the equipment and the various programs we offer to the dealers, and if their customers are in the store I enjoy chatting with them as well.  Every customer has a story to tell, and my job is to help make it a success story for all of us. 

What are some of the biggest changes that have occurred in the turf industry in recent years?

Computers have changed the way we do business.   On one hand, it makes things easier, but on the other hand it takes away some of the face-to-face contact and makes things more impersonal.

Turf equipment has also changed a lot over the years.  Nowadays, we have slick, new models that not only do the job but are fun to operate.  Customers today like lots of gadgets and extra features on their equipment besides just the essential ones.

Another interesting thing is how people’s preferences change over the years.  Who would have thought that customers would want stripes on their lawns, which is a feature we used to try and avoid?  I believe sports fields have helped drive that change.

Based on your experience working with local outdoor power equipment dealers, what are the most important factors affecting the success or failure of dealership?

To be successful, a dealer must be realistic.  He must learn to know his market and price his equipment properly so that he is makes a fair profit.  He also needs to educate himself and his staff, and that is where I can help.  I do my best to educate the dealers about various programs and special deals, and help them understand floor plans and shipping costs.  I try not to insist they do things a certain way, but rather guide them in understanding why certain models and floor plans would be the most beneficial for them. 

Dealers must understand that it’s not just about selling product, it’s about the complete customer experience.  The whole team needs to work together to be successful, from the service and sales departments to the dealer principle.  Team building is a must. 

Everyone needs to know the product and be confident in it.   They must trust not only the product but also me, the Toro Company, and Kenney Machinery, and know they are backed by the best in the business.  Shops should have proper setup knowledge, do careful demonstrations, help customers with finance solutions, be able to offer delivery of the product and most of all BE RESPONSIVE!

For a dealer who is not currently selling Toro equipment, what are some reasons you would give them that they should become a Toro dealer?

A dealer who is not selling Toro is missing out.  Toro offers a superior product that is backed by Kenney Machinery and the Toro Company.  The brand is known nationwide for its innovation and quality.  It is often a leader in new products, such as the MyRide, and in its presentation. Toro offers generous incentives and stands behind its products.  A dealer can be profitable selling Toro products, which almost always rank highly in Consumer Reports for their efficiency.

What advice would you give local power equipment dealers to help them get more from their relationship with a turf equipment distributor like Kenney Machinery?

First, it’s important for a dealer to attend all sales and service schools with their team to learn new features and products so that they can demonstrate knowledge of the product they are selling.  Toro usually has a display at major lawn and garden shows in Indiana and Kentucky, and so they should try and attend those shows when possible.  They’ll quickly see how Toro’s outstanding features compare to the competition.

In addition to keeping product knowledge current, having a trusting relationship with the sales representative is imperative for a dealer.  The sales rep will guide them and knows who to contact to get the correct information.  A dealer should be able to rely on his sales rep to help him with inventory while not loading him with equipment that he doesn’t need and would be better served not investing in.

Many thanks to Merle for sharing his wisdom with our readers, and for his many valuable contributions to Kenney Machinery.  For more information about becoming a Toro dealer, contact Dan Diehl at 317-501-3784.